While working on a client Software Adoption Rescue project, the client executive shared that they had always known their users would need to navigate up a steep learning curve before they fully adopted the software. Yet, despite this expectation and their best efforts to provide the communications, training, and user support they thought necessary, the users still appeared to be stuck and were not embracing the technology.
Has this ever happened to you? Have people in your organization failed to navigate the learning curve? Did your users miss the curve and get stuck in a ditch?
What can you do to flatten the software adoption learning curve?
One very simple, actionable technique to flatten the learning curve and accelerate effective user adoption of your software is the ARC method.
A = Action
R = Reflection
C = Change
Most people don’t realize that learning happens during reflection, not the action. When learning a new system, users, managers, and executives need to take intentional action to stop and identify the specific actions they took, inside or outside the system. Then reflect on whether or not the actions were effective at achieving their specific goals, and then identify what changes or course corrections are needed in the future (I.e., what different actions are needed).
Using ARC with end-users, managers, and executives
This ARC method can be used with direct end-users of the system to identify which system functionality they are using (“action”) and if they are using it effectively and achieving the desired results (“reflection”). You can then identify other functionality they could use instead or alternatives for how or when they use the system (“change”) going forward.
The ARC method can also be used by managers and executives to identify the actions they are using to drive and sustain effective adoption within their teams. Managers and executives take action to establish the policies, processes, and reward systems that directly impact end-user adoption of the system. What specific Actions are managers taking to accelerate software adoption within their team? What actions are they taking when members of their staff are not using the software as designed and intended?
Managers need to Reflect to see if these actions are effective at driving adoption or if they are enabling and rewarding staff for not adopting the system. Managers can then identify what actions they need to change in order to drive different software adoption behaviors among their teams.
Simple ARC steps for individuals, teams, and large organizations
Individuals can easily apply the ARC method to adjust their own learning and behavior. One very simple technique is to write short journal entries using this method. You can set aside as little as 10 -15 minutes to write the answers to 3 simple questions:
“Describe a particular task, activity, or event and identify the specific action(s) you took to address it.” Pick a specific action, task, event, or incident that occurred that day or week and narrowly focus on it. It could be narrow in scope, like “I tried to use the system to prepare for an important client meeting” or “I had to have a difficult conversation with one of my direct reports because they were not following the new process or using the system.” Write down as many specifics you can think about regarding what you did. You can use short sentences or even just bullets. This is just for you. The goal is to try to isolate the specific actions from any intentions, interpretations, or emotions tied to the event.
“What was the impact or results of these actions?” Identify if the actions you took achieved your goals or if the challenge or problem still remains. For example, did you call the help desk to get support on using the tool? Did you find that you could generate the report you needed in the system, but you didn’t know how to interpret the data to make a better decision? Did you ask your managers or coworker for help analyzing the results? If you are a manager, did you have a clear and direct conversation about employee work performance in a way that would help your staff member improve going forward? What specific “ah ha’s” have you had as a result of separating the actions and reflecting on the impacts of these actions?
“What will you do going forward?” Now that you have reflected on the actions, what things need to change going forward? What do you need to stop doing that wasn’t effective at achieving your goals? What things were more effective than you expected that you need to make sure you do more often in the future? When will you next stop and reflect on the effectiveness of these changes?
You can keep your journal private or share parts of it with other members of your team to get their suggestions or help them flatten their own learning curve.
For teams & large organizations
When working with large teams, it is often helpful to bring in a 3rd party to facilitate learning reviews with a small or large group. The 3rd party can be a member of your organization that is in a different department or an external consultant. The 3rd party essentially needs to facilitate the team in working through the ARC method to accelerate team learning and identify specific changes and actions the team will take going forward. For best results, use SMART actions (Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Achievable, Time-Bound) and require group commitment to achieving them by the defined dates.
Accelerating adoption & embracing best practices doesn't happen organically
Most organizations do not set aside specific time and resources to make sure that users and organizations navigate the learning curve as quickly as possible. The ARC method is a very simple technique that does not require a lot of time and effort but is extremely powerful for helping teams change their ways of working. It is also very powerful for helping to identify specific behaviors and best practices that may emerge from select individuals or teams that could deliver tremendous benefits if they were adopted across the organization. Committing to ARC learning sessions at predefined intervals can accelerate adoption and deliver clear, fast benefits to the organization.
Don't wait!? Schedule your ARC session today!
Don’t just read this article and say, “interesting” or “good idea.” Go, right now, before you click on the next article, and schedule a time for you or your team to conduct an ARC learning session. Block off 30 minutes on your calendar for tomorrow to sit in a quiet place and write a journal. Schedule a meeting with your team for next week to sit down and identify one specific task or activity that you want them to improve by the end of the month. Keep it tight and focused – don’t allow the conversation to expand. If necessary, get someone outside your team to come and do quick facilitation to keep everyone on track. Document the results and follow-up within two weeks of the meeting to review the results. You will be glad you did!